Radnor, Pennsylvania: Dante’s inspiration

Chris Carmona

Across the country, ignorant college basketball fans are watching the highlights of Villanova basketball games or catching the two-second clips of face-painted Villanova fans cheering viciously into the camera with their index finger pointing towards God, thinking, “Wow, Villanova must be a pretty fun college.” They know nothing of Radnor, Pennsylvania.

Villanova University is located in the middle of a bourgeois township that has essentially no interest in embracing a college feel. The geography of the township, which is spread out and covered with uncomfortable roads and oversized houses, is the perfect metaphor for the isolated, empty feeling that the town provides for the students.

Lancaster Avenue is our figurative college street, and the distance between where the population actually begins on the street (McDonald’s) and the University ends (the Field House) couldn’t be more indicative of our neighbor-less relationship. It is, quite simply, the antithesis of a college town.

I once visited my friends at the University of Virginia where, like an abused cat, I flinched when they attempted to cross the road without an abrasive noise echoing in the air. Not only did the drivers of the cars yield to pedestrians, but they smiled and waved. Again, like an abused cat, I covered my face, assuming the raised hand was a threatened slap. No, not in Charlottesville. Not in most towns will you find such an animosity toward a student body as you will in Radnor.

I don’t think the residents of this area are particularly contemptuous; in them I sense merely a tired apathy. Until, of course, our basketball team becomes successful. Then they embrace us with open arms, like the estranged father of a once-poor, now-famous musician or actor. They suddenly buy Villanova baseball caps for their Main Line children and nationally announce us as a “Philadelphia team,” as if the R5 were merely a three block street and not a seven-stop train ride.

But no, I don’t blame you hypocrites for being the downfall of our relationship with this town. I see you more as the wife of an abusive father, turning a naked eye to something that has scarred the student body for years and busying yourself with tennis lessons while you should be fighting the township’s imperious, discriminating oppressors: the Radnor police.

The Radnor police behave as most men with minimal power and maximum free time tend to behave: obnoxiously. Instead of thriving merely on traffic tickets like most respectable suburban boxes, Radnor also utilizes underage drinking citations. And by utilizes, I mean exploits. I’m not just talking about their heartless decision to raid parties every homecoming weekend, completely extinguishing one of the few eventful weekends of the year; I’m also referring to the barbeques, the get-togethers, the small cocktail parties that, in their obscenely open schedule, merit a SWAT-like raid, where police cars outnumber kegs.

And, as if their actions weren’t despicable enough, many of the officers find a sadistic pleasure in forcing a 20 year old to march to court for blowing a .04. They enter the parties with a radiant pride, interrogate the residents of the house as if they had handwritten the Patriot Act and drown every word that escapes their coffee-stained mouths with condescension. Like abused cats, we all bow and coil, squint our eyes from the shiny badges that, no doubt, they shine before each raid, contrasting sharply against the dust covered guns on their holsters that will forever go unused. They have the power. Your citation is the reminder. Their condescending attitude simply illuminates the fact that they condone kicking a man while he’s down. It helps boost their morale.

And if you’re reading this and you feel like accusing me of generalizing the local law enforcement: think of how we feel. A college student in this township is stared at not as a person, but as a walking ticket. We can’t even venture from one bar to another without receiving a public intoxication fine. Cops stand outside of Kelly’s salivating with anticipation while a student leaves the bar, bends down to tie his shoe lace and is summoned by an officer. Should he question the KGB’s reasoning, he’s cited for resisting arrest. And if he concedes, he’s simply acting belligerently.

But I’m not going to generalize. Even though every police car I see makes me shudder, I’ll give the force the benefit of the doubt. There is probably one officer, undoubtedly not a native, who has ventured outside of the box and had to police a real area of the country which helped him develop enough of a modest sense of duty that he realizes protecting citizens is not simply a game of quotas, but rather it’s a civic obligation. Police officers are supposed to protect our negative rights; they’re supposed to prevent coercion. They are not supposed to coerce. I’d love to propose an officer exchange program, where Radnor gets to become NYPD for a month. I have no doubt that, upon their return, they’ll still have to write out underage drinking citations to distance our college from the community, but at least they’ll keep a modest demeanor while we pay their salaries.